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Cervontez Felts runs for yardage.

The Thomson-McDuffie Middle School Bulldogs fell two points short of capturing their third CSRA Athletic League Championship last week.

The Dogs were defeated 32-30 Wednesday, Oct. 16 by the Oak Hall Braves at The Brickyard.

The game was not without controversy.

“It was tough,” said TMMS head coach Dustin Shirey. “It was clear as day that the ball came out of his hands for a fumble instead of him being ruled that he was throwing the ball.”

The play gave the Braves the ball and the visitors from Baldwin County went on to score a touchdown and a 2-point conversion in the final few seconds.

“We didn’t get our defense situated because we were so shocked at the call,” Shirey said, who added that he could have quizzed the referees on the call, but didn’t. “In my 11 years of coaching, that was probably the toughest loss.”

The bump was the only blemish on a 7-1 record that Shirey and other coaches were extremely proud of.

“We had talent across the board - at every position and the kids played hard all year,” said Shirey, of the nearly 60-player squad. “They adjusted to everything we were doing and everything we were teaching.”

Next year, close to half the players will go up to high school ball.

“We have some good talent coming back at running back, middle linebacker and defensive and offensive linemen, so we should be in good shape for another run,” said Shirey. “I have to groom another quarterback and we’ll be pretty set.”

The coach said the most satisfying victory came against Washington County.

“They called us out, and we responded,” said Shirey referring to wins of 64-6 and in the playoffs 36-6.

“We take on all comers, and will continue to. It’s in our blood”

Shirey said it was an honor to see players go onto the varsity squad.

“It’s one of the main points of middle school ball – to get them ready to play varsity football on Friday nights,” said the coach.

“Those players that are seniors now on the varsity were my first eight grade class,” Shirey said. “There is a lot of pride in those kids that stuck with playing. We sure are proud of them.”

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